There could be a feeling that coeducation is being imposed as the only unanimously accepted model; but nothing could be further from the truth. The New Single-Gender Education is very much alive, thanks to the success of the schools that apply it.
New Single-Gender Education: success. From time to time news of a long-established sex-differentiated school that plans to become mixed, generally for economic reasons due to low birth rates, is reported, although arguments are put forward for socialization and preparation for a society in which men and women coincide in all fields on an equal footing.
The New Single-Gender Education, a thriving reality
However, these changes always provoke widespread resistance from many families, professionals and students of these schools, as in the recent case of several schools in Navarra (Spain), or Newington College in Sydney (Australia). Generally, single-gender schools that are considering becoming coeducational are boys-only institutions considering the possibility of admitting girls – the opposite case is very exceptional – and are perceived, because of their long tradition, as anachronistic. However, gender-differentiated education today, the New Single-Gender Education, is a powerful and effective pedagogical model for both girls and boys, and is therefore becoming attractive in many places, including public schools.
The example of Virginia (USA)
James C. Sherlock studies in a recent article the fact that boys lag behind girls academically, yet another crisis in Virginia schools. He finds that Girls significantly outperform boys in English language arts (ELA) (reading and writing) in public schools and perform equally well in math and science, both nationwide and in Virginia.Virginia’s statewide SOL performance statistics provide the details here:
Statewide, female students are better readers and much better writers than boys. Those statewide English language arts performances, of course, mask both larger and smaller gaps in individual divisions and schools.
Gaps in writing exist in both the high-performing schools in Loudoun County and the low-performing schools in Richmond City.
Broken down to the next level of detail on writing performance statewide, the result is even worse.
There is a gender-differentiated classroom option that has been in place for a long time in a Prince William County high school. For the best ELA outcomes, it stands to reason that the model should be extended to the elementary school.
College and career readiness statistics offer confirmation of the outcome of children’s ELA deficiencies:
The science of learning in children
The medical community has offered scientific observations about brain science and social development that matter here. Those observations generally include, aggregated by Microsoft Bing’s AI search from three different sources, the following:
- Children’s brains secrete less serotonin, which is directly related to impulse control;
- Children start out primarily as tactile and kinesthetic learners;
- Boys show more areas in the brain devoted to mechanical-spatial strengths;
- Girls generally demonstrate a focus on verbal-emotive processing;
- Girls have more of their cerebral cortex defined for verbal function;
- The hippocampus, where memory and language live, develops faster and is larger in girls than in boys. This affects vocabulary, reading and writing skills.
Sherlock finds them illustrative. They certainly seem to advocate different approaches to educating boys and girls.
New Single-Gender Education: success
In 2005, the U.S. Department of Education’s Program and Policy Studies Service published Single-Gender versus Coed Schooling: A Systematic Review. The reviewers used the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) standards to classify 2,221 studies. The Executive Summary is here.
They find that most of the evidence at the time of that review favored learning in sex-differentiated schools. But also that support for the conclusions is generally weak due to a lack of scientific studies on important questions. A current search of the WWC on that topic yields no studies that meet their standards.
Indiana debate on single-gender education
Gender-differentiated classrooms have been successfully offered for more than a dozen years at Woodbridge High School in Prince William County. But that single-school effort is not robust enough to meet WWC standards. A much larger, scientifically designed and conducted test will be needed.
Sherlock’s conclusion is that the educational gaps between boys and girls are too great for state government and citizens to continue to ignore in Virginia. Indiana has not ignored them, as evidenced by the great gender debate, Should Boys and Girls Learn Separately, published by the Indiana State Impact Project.
It is time to focus on educating boys who, as expected, act and learn like boys. Woodbridge Middle has demonstrated that it is possible to offer gender-differentiated classrooms in coed public schools, subject to parental choice over classroom assignments. And it has apparently resolved, if such a thing is possible, the ACLU’s objections to sex-differentiated schools detailed in The Great Gender Debate.
Source: Boys Left Behind Academically – Yet Another Crisis in Virginia Schools, at Bacon’s Rebellion, December 14, 2023.